The Cure Bloodflowers (Elektra/Fiction)

Bloodflowers (Elektra/Fiction)

Record Reviews

The Cure

Bloodflowers (Elektra/Fiction)

Is that all there is? Robert Smith is enigmatically coy (of course) as to Bloodflowers being the Cure's valediction, but it sure feels like something's over. Half the fun is playing spot the not-quite-oblique allusions to the end: "Out of This World" cries "we always have to go back to real lives"; "The Loudest Sound" has "nothing left to say"; "39" notices "the fire is almost out," and so on. Then again, the refrain of "Watching Me Fall" is "the night is always young," so who knows? The rest of Bloodflowers' appeal lies in its nine nocturnes' smoldering arrangements; the lush, sprawling music is at least on par with 1989's gloom gem Disintegration. "Out of this World" and "The Loudest Sound" are each lengthy embellishments of a glassy, legato guitar line, equal parts melancholy and grace. The roiling "39" is a whirl of slinky strings, caustic rock guitar, and a relentless rhythm ostinato. "Maybe Someday" and "There Is No If ... " are the closest things to pop songs here, if pop songs can still be dense, ornate, and heart-rending. The tender "If ... " is achingly exquisite, but Bloodflowers' pièce de résistance is the 11-minute slow burn "Watching Me Fall." An acoustic pulse, crescendoing fuzzy waves of guitar, and Debussy-ish dynamic shifts surround Smith as he fever dreams of the great unknown -- the future. If Bloodflowers is these imaginary boys' curtain call, this gorgeous, crimson-hued sunrise of an album draws the shades in style. The forest won't be the same without 'em.

****

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